Monday, January 23, 2017

Site News: Post-Wisdom Teeth Health Update

Today, I'll be posting something a little more personal than my usual fare, following the removal of my wisdom teeth.

First and foremost, I am fine. I just can't have solid foods the way I used to for a couple weeks.

The idea of having surgery performed on me was, I admit, very stressful, and it was one of the contributing factors to my many late updates for the last few months. I was utterly convinced that I was going to die for a while. As it turns out, I'm terrified of surgery. So really, this whole experience was one of self-discovery.

But all things considered, extraction of wisdom teeth is a relatively safe procedure, with even elevated risks being no big deal in the larger scheme of things.

So for those of you out there who might be either curious regarding the procedure, or might need some reassurance for your own procedure, or just what to hear what I was l like while hopped up on meds, this is the story of the removal of my wisdom teeth.

About a year ago, my dentist recommended that they should come out some time in mid-2016. They weren't impacted, or anything, but they had no sense of personal space. And even with my regular flossing routine, they could cause tiny food and drink particles to stick between my molars and weaken the enamel.

And... yeah, I didn't follow my dentist's advice. I was put off by the idea of surgery, and I instead opted to just try and floss and rinse really well. Which is why December saw me taking multiple trips to the dentist to fill in the worn-down parts between my molars.

Two trips to get fillings in my molars was enough. I decided those wisdom teeth were coming out.

Like most chronic worrywarts, I went online and found a plethora of frightening articles about "the risks they don't tell you about!" and so forth and suchlike. So that was a mistake.

I went to the recommended dental surgery guy, and he filled me in on all the risks, And actually, there were surprisingly few, and they were all comparatively minor, for surgery.

The big two possible problems are as follows.

1: The wisdom teeth have taken permanent root.
This applies to people past their mid-20s. So that worried me, even though all that does is make them a little harder to get out.

2: The wisdom tooth root has jammed itself into your sinus and actually acts like a plug, keeping fluid up in your sinuses.
This apparently occurs in about 1% of cases. And when it happens... well, it's no big deal. They grab some gum tissue, drag it over the hole, and sew it up. No big deal.

He also told me that I would be getting local anesthesia (no big deal there; not after my fillings) as well as sedation by IV drip, which is considered a safer alternative to general anesthesia.

And yet, I left the consultation still terrified. What if I had some negative reaction to the sedation? What if... well, I was basically worried that anything that I had no power over could go wrong. It's at times like this that I remember the words of Star Trek's Worf.

"Thinking about what you can't control only wastes energy. And creates its own energy."

As a chronic worrywort, this advice has actually gotten me through a lot of sleepless nights.

But as the days went by, I found myself unable to properly focus on the NewtCave, as I'm sure many of you noticed. It took me much longer than usual to get my posts up to a quality level I was happy with. That is, when I could even find the willpower to work on them.

And then, the fateful day came. January 20th. Which just so happened to also be Inauguration Day. As if that wasn't already bad enough.

I took my Valium at noon, one hour before my appointment. That kept me nice and loopy between watching Judge Dredd and paying at the front desk. Then they took me back, gave me an oxygen mask, hooked up the laughing gas, and left me for a bit.

I was not calm. Every once in a while, the machine monitoring my pulse would let loose a quick "beepbeepbeep" and flash a warning about my CO2 levels. Yeah, that calmed me down just fine. (As it turns out, they hadn't hooked up the thing it was trying to measure yet, causing the machine to freak out.)

But they all filed in to begin the job, talking about the inauguration and some of the funny things that people have been saying.

They found a vein in my hand and jammed in the IV the last thing I really remember is being told that the sedation would sneak up on me. And I guess it did, because the next thing I knew, my girlfriend was in the room and Peter Frampton's "Show Me the Way" was playing on speakers overhead.

Everything went as well as could be expected, with both my wisdom teeth out with a minimum of fuss. (My bottom wisdom teeth don't exist. I don't just mean they never came in, they do not exist and never have.) The procedure was actually done in around half an hour, which is also the amount of time I spent crying after the procedure.

Apparently, as they explained to my girlfriend, crying is one of the side effects of whatever drug they gave me. And I'm not afraid to tell you that I was bawling.

It was a very emotional moment for me, 50% because of the drug, but 50% because I was so glad to be alive. Except... I was convinced for the longest time that they hadn't actually done anything yet, since I didn't remember them doing it. So you can add confusion to my simultaneous depression and elation.

The first words I remember saying were "I like Peter Frampton." I also remember that when they unhooked me from the monitor, it started resuming its little beeping fit.

"Shut up, you don't know anything!" I said to the monitor.

I asked the nurse about my blood pressure, which I was apparently very concerned about, and then at some point, I told both my girlfriend and the nurse to stop patronizing me. I remember being aware enough to know that they were saying things like "Yeah," and "Uh-huh" like you would do to a child, or... well, somebody who was delirious. Which I was. I was also aware enough to realize that what I had said was rude, so I ended up apologizing and telling the nurse that she had a nice bedside manner.

Speaking of apologizing, I apparently did a lot of that, too. I don't exactly remember what for, though.

What I found most difficult, however, was getting up.

"Do you want to try standing up?" I was asked.

"I can't," I said. "I'm in a chair."

But miraculously, I found some way to my feet and was helped to the car by the wonderful nurse who must have put up with a lot of nonsense from me. She even helped me get my coat on.

I sobered up along the way to the pharmacy, where I mostly lamented being unable to eat anything from all the delicious restaurants we were passing. Sensing my frustration, my girlfriend reminded me that I had bought some nice applesauce the other day to eat during my recovery.

I was not as enthusiastic as she was and decided to swear at the idea of applesauce.

The trip to the pharmacy was uneventful, save for saying hi to a worker there I went to high school with. The trip home was just as uneventful, as were the various naps I took for a few hours.

I have to go back in a few days, and they'll take a look and see how my sockets are healing up... but yeah, I'm doin' fine.

In order to distract myself from the fact that I can't eat much more than soggy bread, broth, and room temperature yogurt for the time being... well, I have little to do but work on the NewtCave and sleep.

But to keep from overexerting myself in any way, I'll be taking the rest of this week off from new posts, although I will be using that time to finally sort the posts from the end of last year.

Really, I just don't want to rush myself and fall into the old trap of having to post things late.

Regular posts resume the 30th, and February 1st will feature a schedule update which, since I won't be wasting time worrying about by wisdom teeth, I might actually be able to keep for the first time in a while.

I know exactly what I'm posting the 30th, too. It's gonna be a bit of a "Me Day" for a while. And since I already covered "Me Day," I'll be looking at the Classic Doctor Who serial that I've been watching while I recover.

See you then!

1 comment:

  1. You got the gas huh. When i got mine done they just gave me the ole local anesthetic and then yanked em out. Cracking sound got annoying after awhile and one of them snapped in half so they had to get the scalpel out for the old slice and dice on the gums, the freezing wore off when they got to the third tooth. Not the most pleasant of experiences. Well good get well soon